The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA has called for the arrest of the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed for referring to the report by the Lagos State Judicial Panel on Lekki Shooting as “recycled fake news”.
The panel which was set up by the Lagos State government in October 2020 to look into the allegations that the Nigerian Army and Police opened fire on unarmed EndSARS protesters in Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, had submitted its findings to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
A leaked copy of the report has indicted the army and the police, indicating that at least nine persons were killed by the security operatives during the shooting.
The report has, however, generated controversy as some government officials are allegedly attacking some members of the panel for making the report available to the general public.
One of the panel members, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa had raised the alarm several times, alleging that some government officials have been after him since the report was submitted last week. In his recent statement, Ebun-Olu asked the general public to hold the government responsible if anything happens to him.
Recall also that one of the EndSARS protesters, Miss Kamsiyochukwu Ibe who testified before the panel was allegedly stabbed multiple times on Sunday by armed men yet to be identified.
In a video, the victim also alleged that some government officials are after her life for revealing the truth to the panel when she was questioned.
However, the Federal Government, through the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed on Tuesday during a press conference in Abuja, said the panel report was a recycled fake news. Mr Mohammed insisted that there was no massacre at the Lekki Tollgate in October 2020.
According to him, the panel only wasted their sitting allowances, stressing that more investigations are needed to uncover the controversy behind the shooting allegation. He stated that only when a well-investigative panel is set up and come out with its findings, the Federal Government would not change its stand.
Reacting to the development, the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko in an exclusive chat said that the Minister must be arrested over his comment.
According to him, the country is in a mess, stressing that Nigeria has no Federal Government. He lamented the level of “anarchy” in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
He said, “People just wake up and say what they want to say. There’s no scientific backing to what they say. There’s no evidence. They just say whatever they want to say because there’s no accountability, there’s no leadership; they just talk anyhow.
“So let’s just assume that the federal government has spoken through the Minister of Information who at the time the report was submitted to the Lagos state governor was contacted by the media and he told them that he couldn’t speak because he was in a meeting outside Nigeria and we later learnt that they went for a UNESCO meeting somewhere in Paris, France.
“So if he now has enough courage to speak on the report that has not even been published. The report that every Nigerian is seeing now was leaked by some of their members so for now, there is no official disclosure of what the Lagos state panel recommended.
“I think there was a mistake on the part of the panel. The panel ought to have operated like a court of law. A court of law doesn’t need to report to the executive arm in as much as the executive arm is the body that set it up.
“If the governor set up a judicial panel which ought to be independent, before the panel submits a total report to the person that set it up, what the panel ought to do is to have addressed the public and also read out the executive brief, the summary of what they are going to present to the governor.
“The federal government said they have reported through the minister and what the minister said is the kind of thing you hear from places that are considered to be failed states. Nigeria is like a failed state.
“Lagos State utilized the public funds of Nigeria to set up the panel and the panel sat for one year. The panel hired testimony from different types of people, except the army that appeared a few times and disappeared and never showed up again.
“The panel sat and spent one whole year and compiled the reports only for one minister out of over 40 ministers to say that the government does not recognize the panel reports.
“It shows that there’s anarchy in government, there’s incoherence that Nigeria does not have a government and this shows that we are in a very big mess. So Nigerians are in a very big trouble, if you have a minister who would come out and say what the panel said was not true.
“If actually the panel said there was a massacre, and the minister said there was no massacre, I think something is wrong somewhere and I think that minister as we said initially needs to be arrested.
“He is not being paid by Buhari. He doesn’t have one kobo to pay him. The money we are paying ministers who are serving Nigerians is the money that tax payers are paying so for a minister who collects salary from Nigerians to say that there was no massacre, it shows that minister needs to be arrested and prosecuted, but it’s quite unfortunate”.